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Worksop v Steels

By: Chris Smith
Date: 22/11/2010

TOWN at home to Redditch whilst Worksop get Mansfield. There’s no justice. I half hoped we’d get Worksop Town after watching them play Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Third Qualifying Round on a miserably wet Sunday afternoon at Retford United’s ground.

The main reason was we could have had another stop at the Pilgrim Fathers pub in Scrooby village on the way down (and the food there constituted more than a Scrooby snack-geddit?) Retford also looks like an excellent watering hole if you are that way inclined.

This was a nice easy trip from Thorne and my brother was keen to take in any games on a week's respite from Qatar. Finding the ground was a bit awkward as it isn't signposted and we'd left the road atlas at home, but having gone in and out of town we finally spotted a double decker bus which had transported the "home" fans there and the venue itself. The ground is actually situated outside of Retford and surrounded by farmland.

Given that Worksop play at Level 3 or the Evostik Premier, we were a bit taken aback to offer up tenners and then wait pathetically for our non-forthcoming change. I couldn't hold back the "Bloody hell!" as the cost of entry struck me. At least the programme was a good read for two quid.

I've been to the old Worksop ground in their home town but they've since moved as a result of administration and owner boredom. They played at Ilkeston last season but are at least nearer for their fans now. They have a well appointed club shop in a Portakabin, and I ended up buying a book about Wilfred Bartrop, (Swifter than the Arrow) who played for Worksop, Barnsley and Liverpool before being killed in action, four days before the end of the Great War.

As kick off approached, we were treated to Mud's "Tiger feet" in homage to the club's nickname and, lest we forgot their name, "Eye of the Tiger" followed shortly after. I was half concerned that some Hull City ditty would be played to reinforce the big cat theme before the Tigers came on, resplendent in their orange shirts. At least I had been told we would be spared another atrocity in that Worksop no longer play a cackling laugh over the tannoy when they score goals. It used to sound like Krusty the Klown and wasn't, the club shop worker lamented, one of their better innovations.

A better idea was the chilli and chips fare offered by the kitchen along one side of the ground. It was just a shame we were still stuffed from our pub lunch.

There is an open end behind one goal and a shallow covered stand at the other. To the left of this is a covered stand of seats whilst opposite are the Worksop shop, kitchen and Retford offices. Behind this is a smart social club though hopes of catching up on the Premiership action at half time were dashed by the only viewing I've had of Antiques Roadshow at a football ground. Mind you, if it's a choice between watching Blackburn or Fiona Bruce, Rovers lose out.

Worksop had already beaten Steels in a league game just five weeks earlier. They would start favourites being placed fifth with nine wins and two draws in fifteen matches and having scored thirty one goals. Steels are struggling with five wins and three draws from sixteen with twenty nine for and twenty eight against.

Ten minutes in, after a frantic start, Steels were awarded a free kick which seemed to go through everyone in the penalty area but was apparently deflected in to give the away side the lead. Barely had the Steels fans had a chance to finish celebrating when Town equalised with a shot from inside the area going past the despairing dive of the Steels keeper. Five minutes later, Town went ahead when the ball was headed over the Steels keeper from close range. One of those efforts that look good when they go in but poor when they don't.

Given that the game was just over a quarter of an hour old, we were congratulating ourselves on picking a good match. Town shot wide a few minutes later after a good move when it would have been easier to score. Whilst Steels did get into the Town area a few time s after this, Town were always looking most likely to score. Whilst this would be at the open end in this half, the rain forced us into the covered stand opposite. That didn't stop us seeing another Town shot rattle the crossbar as they piled on the pressure but they couldn't add another before half time which arrived three minutes late due to injuries caused by some ferocious tackles by both sides.

Half Time: Town 2 Steels 1

We still had to pass on the chilli and chips but having warmed ourselves in the clubhouse, ventured out for the second half which continued the Town pressure on Steels.

We had a good view from behind the goal of the relentless attacking from the home team with several shots going over. However, Town got the third goal they deserved with about fifteen minutes left when an inch perfect cross from the Town right was met at the far post with a header that gave the Steels keeper absolutely no chance. A really well worked goal.

Worksop were now piling forward and shredding the Steels midfield and defence before I saw something I rarely see at BP. A through ball left a Town player clear with only the keeper to beat. He seemed to toy with him before taking the ball round and punting home, although I thought he might have left it too late.

This meant the majority of the 290 crowd could relax and enjoy some exhibition stuff. A chant of "It's just like watching Frickley" was aimed at Steels which I was bemused at, before finally guessing what it was about. Then, a couple of the home fans realised I had a Frickley fleece on, a bargain from that club shop and well toasty on a cold day. I can't say I was bothered as the chanting wasn't aimed at me. After all, one female home supporter had a tiger's head hat on and anyone wearing Sheffield Wednesday gear (and there were a few) has nothing to crow about when it comes to sartorial (in) elegance.

It turns out that the Frickley chant was a retort for a section of the South Elmsall crowd shouting "scabs!" at Worksop's support when they play in Yorkshire. I'm not sure how this was supposed to affect Steels though, and I would naturally sympathise with the Frickley fans on this point anyway. Twenty five years on and the strike isn't forgotten, nor those who helped defeat it.

There were no further goals though the last ten minutes were exciting. A well deserved and emphatic win for Worksop.

Full time: Town 4 Steels 1

Just to show I had no long term resentments regarding the UDM, I got a Worksop fridge magnet to go with the book.

You never know, we might yet get a chance to visit here this season as on this performance, Mansfield have a tough game. Worksop thoroughly deserve a good payday after yesterday and some good fortune after seasons of exile and financial upheaval.

As for Stocksbridge, we were thinking of going there on Saturday, but with the weather forecast as poor as it is and it's position in the Pennines, we might have to think again.

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